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April 28th, 2011

Notes from the Last Week of April

Snapped this right before the thunderstorm this morning on my way to work. I’m afraid today’s rains might have knocked off all the blossoms. We’ve moved away from the yellow parade, which started with witch hazel, then forsythia and daffodils. Now everything is pink and purple on my morning commute.

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Thanks for all of the good feedback on last week’s eggs entry. E’s dad showed me a quicker way to color the eggs. He didn’t wrap them at all. He filled the pan with yellow and red onion skins, and nestled the eggs into them before he filled the pan with water. He even let the eggs cool in the pan of water, so the eggs got a rich deep color. I was going to wait an entire year to post this, since Easter is over. Think of this entry, a few days after Easter, as if you are picking up your film from the drugstore and seeing your pictures for the first time.

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Here’s one of the marbled eggs from my original batch, hidden outside by the Easter bunny.

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Here’s one of the leftover goose egg shells from our April eggs feature. We had a bunch of wiggly eyes, so he was spared from the compost pile, and added to the egg hunt. It was a good weekend for an egg hunt, and for being outside. I even tried my hand at a cartwheel or two.

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And finally, a gratuitous gnome. For several months now, we’ve had a “gnome war” with E’s folks, hiding them in each other’s houses. I didn’t remember to hide them until we were leaving for home, so I just stuck this fellow by their garage door. I have a feeling he’ll be back in our garden by the end of the summer.

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April 21st, 2011

Color Your Eggs with Onion Skins

This morning I dyed eggs with onion skins. A few weeks ago, Eric’s parents told me how their mothers used to dye eggs in onion skin, and polish them with olive oil. It was fun listening to them reminisce, so I gave it a try.

01_Ingredients

Step 1: Gather ingredients. You’ll need eggs, onion skins, small pieces of cloth to cover the egg, and rubber bands or string. You can save your onion skins for a few weeks before you need them. If you forget, like I did, you can ask a grocery store for skins. (I got mine from the Rodale kitchen. Thank you, Leah!)

02_SoakClothSkins

Step 2: Soak. Soak both the onion skins and cloth in warm water. It makes the onion skins softer and easier to wrap around the egg. It’s best to use big pieces of onion skin; it makes a more uniform cover for the egg.

03_WrapSkinCloth

Step 3: Bundle. Wrap your eggs in the onion skin, and then in the cloth. Secure with string or rubber bands. I tried tucking loose pieces of onion skin around any uncovered spots on the egg. Since I’ve never done this before, I wondered if the rubber bands would leave any sort of mark, like they do when you tie-dye.

04_BoilInPan

Step 4: Cook ‘em. Layer the eggs in a saucepan. I chose a pretty one, for the photo. Then I realized I needed an inch of water above the eggs, and had to switch pans. This is the danger of being a photo editor. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. If you are using large eggs, let them sit for 15 minutes.

06_removeFromHeat

Step 5: Rinse. Here are the egg bundles after 15 minutes. They floated to the top of the pan, and I lost one rubber band in the process. You’re supposed to remove the cloth and skin right away, and rinse with cold water. I am a wimp, so I ran cold water over the still hot bundles for a few seconds before I freed my eggs. Then I rinsed them a few seconds more to stop the cooking.

07_Rinse

It worked! Also, my mystery was solved—the rubber bands did not leave any lines or marks. Some of the eggs I covered in small bits and pieces did not actually dye the egg. It gave these eggs a marbled appearance.

08_LightOliveOilCoatStep 6: Polish. Dry the eggs, then apply a light coat of olive oil with a soft cloth. This one is a bit extra shiny; I wiped it more thoroughly after the photo.

09_EnjoyStep 7: Enjoy! I packed these back up to take to Eric’s parents. They should be okay in the fridge for up to a week. These eggs may be a part of an egg hunt before they are turned into egg salad. This was pretty easy, and fun. Next year I want to try some with red onion skins.

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April 7th, 2011

spring cleaning

Well, I saved all of these zinnia seeds from my garden last fall, and I meant to make little seed envelopes and include them in my holiday cards. Then I never finished writing my holiday cards. The airtight jars of seeds have been sitting in dark closets and in our basement, and now it is seed-starting time. The following pictures won’t help you at the moment, but they will show all of my friends and family just how much thought I put into the holiday gift they have not yet received.

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1. I picked my favorite zinnias, and kept an eye on them, and let the flowers dry on the stems.

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2. Then I harvested the dead head.

Harvest

3. You can save the seeds or the whole head.

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4. Label with the plant name and color (and though I didn’t show it here, also add the year).label

5. Seal in an airtight container, store in a dark cool place, and promptly forget them until it’s time to start your garden again.

airtight

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(Or  in my case, forget about them until your friend Nicole sends you a very nice package from New Orleans and you want to make a thank-you note to send her, and you remember the zinnia seeds.)

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